Can we take a closer look at FDR? How about taxes?

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I read with great interest Pat Williams’ recent guest opinion piece in the Daily Inter Lake. I was particularly interested in his recollection of a number of historical facts. My recollection of some of those historical facts differ somewhat from that of Mr. Williams.

I was born during the Great Depression and remember the day that FDR died. FDR may have been “superb at cajoling, compromising and encouraging the Congress,” but many of his plans did not work out all that well for him or for the American people.

During the eighth year of FDR’s much touted New Deal programs, his loyal Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr., made the following confessions: 1) “We have tried spending more money than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” 2) “I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get jobs. I want see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises.” 3) “I say after eight years of the administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot.”

FDR, like Obama, did not get along very well with the Supreme Court. The court struck down some of FDR’s New Deal legislation as being unconstitutional. As a result, FDR attempted to expand the number of justices on the court in his Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. The bill became known as Roosevelt’s “court packing plan.”

Democrats and Republicans alike opposed his bill and it ultimately failed. This FDR signature legislation was one he considered very important but he could not “cajole,” “compromise” or “encourage” enough to see it through to fruition. Apparently he could not muster enough “critical leadership” and “trust” to get the job done.

I agree that speaker Ryan’s first attempt to push through a replacement for Obamacare was done too hastily and without enough congressional support. However, If I was Williams I would not count my chickens because the “fat lady has not yet sung.”

After all, it took many months for Obama to cajole his democratically controlled Congress to pass Obamacare and without one Republican voting for it. He certainly did not get it done in the first 100 days. It wasn’t signed into law until March 23, 2010. He took office January 20, 2009. Do the math. Even then they had to pass it to see what was in it.

Obamacare enrollment grew from 8 million by 2014 to a high of 12.7 million in 2016. Enrollment has dropped to 10 million in 2017. Could this have been a huge contributing factor in Trump becoming our 45th president? I know several who voted for him because of his promise to replace it. They simply cannot afford it any longer.

Now let’s look at Williams’ statement that “President Clinton worked his will on the Republican majorities to pass major tax reform.” What he did not mention was that they were in the form of tax reductions. Democrats for years have tried to claim credit for the reduction in taxes and the economic boom that followed. Again, if I recall correctly, I would say the reverse is the truth on those tax reforms.

For years the myth has prevailed that the tax increases under Clinton led to the economic boom of the 1990s. In 1992 Clinton won the presidential election, and in 1993, he raised income taxes across the board. As a result, the Democratic Party suffered historic losses in the 1994 election.

It was then that the Republicans with their “Contract with America” gained power. One of the reasons for their popularity was that they ran on lowering taxes among other things. In 1997 this Republican Congress passed a bill, originally resisted by President Clinton but ultimately signed, lowering taxes. One of the results was that the debt to GDP ratio was reduced and in 1998 there was finally a budget surplus.

Economist Dan Mitchell reminds us that going all the way back to the 1920s, “history tells us that tax revenues grow and the rich pay more tax when marginal tax rates are slashed.” Perhaps Trump, too, should be admired for his vision of promoting corporate tax-rate cuts.

Finally, I did find one thing that I could agree with in Williams’ article. That was when he said that he had an appreciation of the “doctrine of separation of powers” in the government. He is correct in believing that the Constitution enumerates the powers of each branch of the government and it is the duty of the president to enforce the laws passed by Congress.

Would I be wrong then to assume Williams should have disagreed with Obama when he said, “I just took an action to change the law?”

Still is a resident of Kalispell.

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